What About the Time Texts? (Part 2)

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

In Part 1 we barely heard a peep from those who worship at the altar of the so called, “time texts.”  The first article conclusively demonstrated that what many think are “time texts” that prove that Jesus was “coming again” in 70 AD, are simply not that at all.  That they can be and have been read in another far more viable way than either the critics of Christianity want (so that they can say the Bible is false), or those who think they mean all things ended in 70 AD (both camps are simply wrong).

In this second part I want to point out a glaring problem: if we take some of these time texts the way the two camps above do (and many so called, “partial preterists”) then the NT message on this matter is deeply confused.

First off, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (enggus – Greek) (Matthew 3.2, and all like passages), is supposed to mean that 70 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem, was “at hand.”  Now, in Matthew 3.2, Jesus said this in the budding of his ministry- 31 AD.  That puts the Roman War with the Zealots (66-70AD) about 35 years off.  Keep this in mind.

Now, when Jesus was actually dealing with matters that had to do with the Fall of Judea, he said this, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near (enggus)” (Matthew 24.32); “So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates” (24.33).  So, here we are told that “when you see these things know that it is near” – whereas before it was near when Jesus came on the scene preaching, “the kingdom of God is near”.  Well.  Wait.  How could it near in 31 AD, with signs to come 30 years from then, so that then when they saw “these things”, then they could know, “it is near”?

Secondly, who uses the language of “near” for something 35 years off?  I know I don’t.  The Super Bowl Championship of the Cleveland Browns is near!  Heck, I would cover that spread if I had to 35 years to claim it! (Well, maybe not the Cleveland Browns, but you get the point).

“He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand (enggus). I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples'” (Matthew 26.16).  Now, here, we can see that Jesus is referring to his time of suffering, the cross and the resurrection.  And, in the context, that was certainly near…just a day away.  Now, that’s just good, proper English.  If I said the Cleveland Browns Super Bowl Championship is near in January 2019 – I would be kicked out of the betting pool as a total idiot.  See where I am getting at here?  “Near” – in the Lexicons – has a couple of uses to it – and also in English, which is what the Lexicons of Koine Greek are using to convey possible meanings in English.  A Lexicographer explained this to me.  An obvious point so obvious it is easy to miss (like looking for Tide in the Laundry Aisle of a store when it is right there in front of your face – missing the forest because of the trees kind of thing).

“Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.  See, the hour is at hand (enggus), and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26.45).  Does this need any explanation?  The verb here is in the perfect tense; “the hour has come – and is here”.  Same verb we find in the verse above (Matthew 3.2).  35 years off…or right now?

Luke is apparently aware of the possible confusion over this, and consistently writes, “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you'” (perfect, same verb – Luke 10.9).  Not near in terms of time, but near in terms of proximity.  In Matthew 26.45 “near” in terms of time is meant – the hour has come – when Jesus said this, he was being handed over!  These are matters the attentive Bible reader must consider.

“As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near (enggus) to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was (mello) to appear immediately” (Luke 19.11).  Here is another term, mello, often abused by folks in the groups mentioned above.  This text in Luke states that the expectation of many was that when Jesus was “near” Jerusalem, the Kingdom would “immediately” (“about to” – mello) appear.  It didn’t.  They were wrong.  It is certainly interesting that Luke uses enggus in this text, almost as if saying, “see, don’t confuse that with this.”  Good job, Luke!

It’s not that mello does not ever have this meaning, or that enggus or enngizo does not have this meaning, sometimes.  It’s that in each and every instance we must interpret the passages in context.  A proof text without a context is no text.  Linguistics 101.

There are literally dozens of examples that can be shown.  If Jesus was saying the Kingdom was at hand, and he meant 70 AD, then he was 35 years off.  If he meant “at hand” in terms of proximity (the verb used with the perfect tense), the problem is at once removed.  It is not a time text.  Jesus could not have been saying he is “about to” (mello) come in 70 AD (Matthew 16.27 – For the Son of Man is going to come (mello) with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done), only to have that contradicted in Luke for those who thought the Kingdom was about to come when he entered Jerusalem.  Either Jesus in Matthew 16.27 is saying that he was about to come in his Father’s Kingdom in heaven – which would make sense if applied to his ascension – or he was 35 years off and mello means nothing at all).  Or, it could mean, as translators have taken it, that mello here (“going to”) simply stresses the certainty of an action in the future – not its time – which is entirely legitimate, too).

If there were things to happen before the 70 AD event happened so that they could “see” these things, and then think, “it is near”, then this again begs the question of why they used “it is near” all they way back in the thirties, forties and fifties of the NT writings.  They could not say, “it is near” until they saw these things first.  In fact, Jesus expressly says this: “And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand (enggus) !’ Do not go after them” (Luke 21.8)!  In using the Synoptics of the Gospel (Kurt Aland) and noting the parallel statements here of Luke with Matthew and Mark, Luke is the only one that mentions this statement, “the time is at hand, do not go after them.”  Again, this is because Luke is explaining to his readers the difference between time and proximity.  Don’t confuse them!  If Jesus was saying “go, preach, the time is at hand” and saying here, “do not go after those who are saying, the time is at hand,” then we have a massive contradiction here (which many critics of the Bible have noted, falsely – for even their bias to prove the Bible wrong fails to consider the nuances of this term).  If, however, in the same vein some false teachers were saying, “the Christ’s Appearance is over here.  He is here!  The Time of Messiah’s Coming is now!  He is now coming to restore all things” – if that was being said in terms of time, don’t listen to this.  Jesus is not coming in any form of any appearance, nor he is coming in any form of any shape where he could be pointed at and said, “there he is!”  The judgement of Jerusalem was indeed a judgment of the son of man – who judges from heaven where he is at the right hand of God, the one who comes on the clouds of heaven before the Holy Father who is in heaven.  Thus, the son of man is indeed near in terms of proximity (the Spirit reveals Him, and the Spirit is in union with the Son, who is in union with the man, the son of man in heaven), but Luke seems to be going out of way to say the fall of Jerusalem is not when the son of man will appear – don’t confuse them.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)” (Romans 10.8).  “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4.5).  Now, Jesus said, “if anyone says, he is at hand, do not listen to them.”  Paul is saying that he is at hand.  Don’t listen to Paul!  If you are reading this with any scintilla of an open mind on these matters, you should be starting to get the point.

We have not dealt with all of the so called “time texts” as it regards this matter and the radical claims I formerly made years ago in haste to prove Jesus’ Second Coming was in 70 AD.  I was dead wrong.  The way I handled God’s word was dead wrong.  The way Luke, my brother, has instructed me in his texts, is right.  We have not gone through all of these matters, but these two parts in this series has already begun to unravel the claims.  The cocksuredness of those who claim the “time texts” cannot be overcome is being shown that such a claim is bogus.  J. Stuart Russell, in his book, The Parousia (1878), and heavily used by Milton Terry (1898), was borrowed from critics of the Bible who understood each and every instance of “near” and “mello” as asserting that Jesus believed he would return in that time.  And, since this did not happen, Jesus was wrong, the Bible is not inspired, Christians are idiots.  Russell took up this charge and tried to show that 70 AD was the terminus for all such “time statements” relating to the Second Coming of Christ.  He was mistaken.  His book hardly deals with the ideas mentioned above, or even considers them.  Such an arbitrary use of these texts to force them into a straight-jacket of “they cannot mean anything else” does not reveal an exegete, but someone with an agenda.  The piety of Russell and others like him who want to “rescue” Jesus from the critics is indeed noble and understood.  The heart is in the right place….the texts are not.  This often happens.  We often blend our hearts with our heads thinking the two are the same.  This can be dangerous.  A Christian can be exegetically wrong, yet their heart is in the right place.  It’s a matter of ignorance (which we all have, admittedly).

Two points: “Near” has two relational meanings; one with time, another with proximity (“close”); these terms are translated into English as they would be used in normal English.  I feel that I need to further illustrate this last point.  Let’s take the simple Strong’s Concordance.  There, it says, “near (in place or time).”  That is, the Greek word means in English (how it is used in English) “near (in place or time).”  That’s what a Lexicon is for.  What this word means in our language, today; how we use this word in our language.  “My wife and I are very, very close” (in Greek, I could use the verb enngizo).  “My wife and I are very, very close” (we are about 50 miles from your house).  Never in English would we say, “My wife are close. We will be at your house in about 35 years.”  Understand?  Good.  See you next time for Part 3.

Who Is Jesus, Part 3

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Allow me again to post one of most greatest pieces of doctrine ever written:

“We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us” (Chalcedon, 451 AD).

These descriptions of Jesus are all in present tense.  They refer to Him now as He is.  “Perfect in manhood” (ἀνθρωπότητι – Greek, “manhood” – that which consists of “being man” – Chalcedon was written in Greek).  Manhood is defined in the next clause:  “truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body.”  That is, ἐκ ψυχῆς λογικῆς καὶ σώματος, of a rational soul, reasonable soul and body.  The Logos, the Eternal Son of God was not the “soul” of Jesus, nor the “body”.  The man, Christ Jesus, had his own human soul (created) and body (created).  This constitutes, phusis or, as we saw in Part 1, morphe – “nature” – human nature.

“[O]ne and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.”  Or, “[C]oncurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son.”  So, Two Natures, fully God (of the same Nature as God Himself) and fully man (of the same nature of Man).  One Person, the Eternal Son of God, Two Natures, divine and human.  These Natures are inseparably in union with each other.  They are “inconfusedly” in union, meaning, “not mixed” (ἀσυγχύτως – means “no confusion”).  They are “unchangeably” in union – and this is important.  The union between the Two Natures of the One Person (God the Son) is without change – it is forever a union of Two Natures of Man (rational soul and body) and God (Divine Nature, Essence, Being).  What prompted this series is the denial of such a claim by Mike Sullivan, David Green, Jeff Vaughn, Alan Bondar and Don K. Preston.  They do not believe that the One Person, Jesus Christ, now has a human nature, body and soul.  The human nature of the One Person, Jesus Christ, Eternal Son of God, uncreated, is called in the Bible, “the son of man”.  Son of God (Divine), son of man (human being, body and soul).  Any lessening of this is heresy.

“[I]ndivisibly, inseparably” – these last two further score the idea that the Two Natures of the One Person are, from the time the union was brought together in conception of the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are now forever “indivisible” and “inseparable.”  The fullness of the “manhood” of the son of man, en toto, cannot ever be “separated” ever again.  If, then, Jesus no longer has his human body in heaven, we have separation.  If Jesus no longer has his human soul in heaven, we have division.  If Jesus no longer has any of that which is “consubstantial” ( ὁμοούσιον homousian -of the same substance) with manhood, then the Gospel is lost.

“[T]he distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved.”  This notes, again, the present understanding (“being preserved” and “concurring” are present tense) of the One Person, Two Natures in heaven.  The “distinction” is preserved, not blended by the union, not con-fused together in union, but “distinct” – Two distinct Natures.  One does not “absorb” the other.  One does not “blend” with the other.  There is no “third hybrid”.  There is One Person with Two Natures, distinct (two), yet with an inseparable union in One Person.  This is further emphasized by saying, “not parted or divided into two persons.”  There is not the person, the son of man on earth, and another person, the Son of God, Eternal, “up there.”

In the Trinity there are Three Persons, Father, Son and Spirit.  One God (one Nature, being, essence).  Do not try and “picture” this, or “image” it.  There are no images.  This is a purely propositional, intellectual statement of Faith.  Remember, it is based on two concerns: does it contradict itself?  Does it contradict the Bible?  By distinguishing the terms, “Person” and “Being” logical contradiction is avoided.  There are not Three Beings.  There is only One God, one being.  Each Person of the Godhead has their “being” in unity as One God.  The Singular Essence of One God is in Three distinct Persons.  Thus, we can say, the Logos is God.  The Spirit is God.  The Father is God.  Three Persons, One Being.  Contradiction avoided.  Mind numbing attempts of picturing or attempting the fathom this Being in His Essence in Three Persons is unfathomable.  Blessed Be His Name forever.

Now, the Son, who is God Eternal, One Person, is the sole person of his own eternal divine Nature (and all essences of God, all that is attributed to God are properties of Him), and the sole Person of the son of man, who was made a soul and body – yet without having his own human, individual person in and of himself.  We say the son of man was fully man, with a full human nature yet impersonal as to individuation, because the Person of the son of man is God, the Son.  The very Person of the soul and body of the son of man expresses himself (without confusion) in the impersonal human nature.  The Logos (The Son, Eternal God) did not possess a body.  A human individual was not made then the Logos took over that individual.  Rather, the conception of the soul and body in the womb of Mary at that instant was the Person of the Son (who is divine) expressed in and in union with the created human being, the son of man, Jesus of Nazareth, the dude.

The reason for this is that the Son Eternal “took to himself” (Part 1) human nature itself – the essence of human nature itself and all that it is and expressed himself in that “form” as a man while never losing His own Divine Attributes.  Every human being is a person (soul and body) – the soul is not the person, the body is not the person.  Soul/body is the person, and as such is entirely unique (individuated, individual).  However, not a single human person demonstrates the whole essence of human nature. There is not a single person that is every person at once.  Human nature is what every person has and is, but not any one person demonstrates all the human nature is.  Not until Jesus.  By taking on human nature, the Son of God took on that which is common to every human being.  If the son of man was a human person, he would be a human person common to himself as a single person.  By taking on human nature and being the Divine Person of that nature, the Son was able to take on all that human nature is in common to every human person.

The Son, the Eternal, expresses his Person in two Natures.  In regards to his Divine Nature, the Son never emptied himself, nor ever forfeited, nor relinquished any of the attributes of God.  In regards to the son of man, the Person of the Eternal Son was limited in that human nature, and so “in union” with that nature that we find human expressions only attributable to human nature: thirst, sleep, ignorance, growing in wisdom, an infant, ate, pooped, got dirty, needed a bath, clipped his nails, burped, etc.  “Yet without sin”.  By taking on the essence of human nature, the Son did not take upon himself fallen human nature.  He was without sin, nor born with any of the fallen propensities of sin that you and I are so easily entangled with.  This is another reason why “impersonal” comes into play.  There was no human being of natural birth between a fallen man and a fallen woman that the Logos could indwell or created.  The son of man was made by the Holy Spirit and the natural means of biological gestation and being formed in Mary’s womb for nine months.  There was an umbilical cord, and his penis was circumcised on the eighth day according to Jewish custom.

We have covered a ton of material.  The One Person of the Son of God, Eternal, Uncreated, took to Himself human nature and made a man in the image of God, image of Adam, without sin.  The man, Christ Jesus, and the Son of God, One Person, from that creation cannot ever be “separated” ever again.  The soul and body of Jesus was separated at the cross, and he died (though this did not at all separate the union of the two natures in One Person, and we cannot say the Divine Nature died – an absurdity in itself).  He was raised from the dead, with his same soul and his same body, and was glorified and entered heaven, soul and body, the son of man; human nature forever in union with Divine Nature in One Person, Jesus (the Eternal Son) Christ (the Messiah, annointed son of man).  Any denial of this fact is egregious error that absolutely destroys the Christian Faith.  For, if God and Man are not in all ways in union by human nature and divine nature in One Person forever, then man is lost and has zero hope of ever being eternally with God.  For, it is by this Holy Union of the Two Natures in One Person forever that man can comes and dwells with God in all holiness, with all righteousness with God in Jesus.  Any doctrine or teaching that takes away any nth degree of this union of the human nature (body and soul) and the divine nature in One Person is to be shunned and deemed heretical; a doctrine of demons; a conjuring up from the mere mind of man; feeble and good only for the trash can.

 

Who is Jesus, Part 2

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Obviously, if you have not read Part 1, stop now.  Okay, so we saw in Part 1  one of the main texts used for demonstrating what we will now cover: the Chalcedon Creed.  In Philippians, we have “father, “God”, “human nature”, “son” “man”.  How do you square this?  How can Jesus be affirmed as a man, and as God in the same breath?  Two things: 1. The statements that are used to describe this cannot contradict themselves.  2.  The statements from which the description is derived, the Bible, cannot be contradicted.  “Jesus is Lord” – that is a statement from the Bible.  “If Jesus is Lord, then that must mean he was risen from the grave and is alive, for he must be alive in order to be the present Lord” – that is a statement derived from the Bible.  It is just as true, even though it is not “found” in the Bible.  The second statement, my own, is a man-made deduction, a man-made proposition.  If, then, a statement is derived, deduced from the Bible, it is just as true as the Bible.  My statement, my man-made statement, does not contradict the Bible.  We all want to proclaim, “what the Bible says.”

Well, the intention was the same in Chalcedon.  Great, devotional care was taken over each word and their order.  Does it contradict the Scriptures?  Does it contradict itself?  Can we square, in logical, ordered derived statements what the Bible gives to us in answering, Who is Jesus?  And, once this has been done, with great pains, will those who believe in this Jesus accept it?  Is this a statement that can be presented to the Church so that it may bring unity where there is great division, even among our own?  That’s Chalcedon, 451 AD.  The Church did accept it.  And from then on it has become the bulwark of the Faith in defending the matter.  There is no contradiction in the Bible, nor is there any contradiction in a defense of the presentation that Jesus is man, and Jesus is God at the same time, forever.

The Statement reads as follows: “We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with us according to the manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the virgin Mary, the mother of God, according to the manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.”

That’s a lot, I know.  And, I will not go down the whole explanation.  “Following the holy fathers” means that Chalcedon grew out of the prior centuries of the Faith.  It was not “created” in 451.  It came from another Statement, the Nicene (325 AD) and the Apostles’ (possibly coming into its own form as early as 180 AD).  Chalcedon is a development.  Many were saying this about Jesus, and that.  The problem these views had was that, although they sounded plausible, they contradicted a text in the Bible.  That’s a strike.  Can’t be true.  For example, a guy who was a Christian named Apollinaris (361 AD), an important figure, a Bishop even, had a hard time understanding the whole Jesus and God thing.  He argued that the Logos himself, the Second Person of the Godhead, the Son, Eternal, was the actual “soul” of the man, Jesus.  This meant, of course, that Jesus was not a real, human being, soul and body.  It also had great implications for the Logos Himself, where “he emptied himself” was taken to mean that the Second Person Himself ceased, for a time, being God Almighty.  The absurdities the caused, not to mention the contradictions, abounded.  It was roundly condemned in 381 AD (Second Council at Constantinople).  Never really heard from since.  The Jesus in the Bible is not God in the flesh.  He is a man in union (one) with God – in the flesh (incarnation).

“All with one consent” is the idea of unity on this matter.  And, this Statement has unified all the churches that profess their faith in the Scriptures – Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Churches with its myriad of denominations are in unity over this matter.  We can’t agree on baptism…but we can and do agree on this!  We fight over what might seem to be the most trifling of things, but on this we agree.  That’s something to keep in mind.  When such a Statement like this actually produces the unity it sought for and now has been judged to have stood the test of time as it has – and it has been and is still subjected to great scrutiny, then one pays attention to the collective voice of the Body of Christ, the Church (as Paul called it, metaphorically speaking).  The Spirit resides in the Church, in all her “members” wherever they are found, and with the Spirit, the Father and the Son.  In spite of continued divisions between West and East, and between Protestants and Catholics, this Statement still unifies to this day.  When a view, or a teaching comes along and attempts to charge it with being wrong, that is not something to “throw off” lightly.  This is more than a mere “statement” from a scholar that can be quoted from a commentary or some systematic theology.  Even the great Luther, who championed the individual reading of the Bible, did not dare begin to question this Statement.  He did question other statements here and there, and brought about the Reformation.  Other councils, other statements, even those held by a great deal of theologians, were questioned and rejected, but not this one.  If this one was knocked down, the Faith ceases to exist, rendering any questions of any matters pointless because there is no reason to discuss pointless articles of the Faith when the very core has been demolished, and that is what this Statement has come to be known as.  It does not give us a matter of how to be saved.  It does not even tell us why we must be saved.  But it does tell us WHO does the saving: Jesus Christ, “Very God, Very Man.”  It states in the end, “as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.”  This Statement claims that it is the direct teaching of the Lord who presides over the Church, His People in the Scriptures, and handed down til then (451 AD).  This is no mere “creed” or “statement of faith” by some corner church of the Billy Bob Evangelist Heart of the Bleeding Miracle.

I have written a bit on this first matter to establish this point.  It may appear to those who have a renegade spirit to simply ignore it as a piece of paper.  Big deal.  Bunch of old men in the 5th Century got together and rattled off some words and a lot people accepted them because they were smarter than they were and had more power and wealth to use this creed as an effective fear-mongering tool to corral  in the idiots.  Be my guest.  Feel free to believe that.  But don’t call yourself a Christian in the historical sense of the word.  You may call yourself a follower of Jesus that has no creed, and that’s fine.  But, when I ask you, “Who is this Jesus you follow?” and your answer is, “well, my Bible says he is a spirit, like, you know, everywhere.  He doesn’t have a body anymore, you know, or maybe he does, but who cares?  See, this Jesus is not in heaven any more.  He is not a man anymore, either, or like, I don’t know, maybe he is in some sense or something, I don’t know, don’t care.  I just love me some Jesus cause he makes me feel good, you know?  I don’t really speculate on this stuff you know, cause Jesus, see, Jesus lives in my heart, man, you know?”  No.  I don’t.  You have not said anything.  “Well, you know, just pray about it, man.  He will come into your heart, you know?  He’s all apart of us, you know, so we have to love each other, man, you know, and not argue over this stuff, man.  Jesus is real, brother, and you just want to talk about theology and doctrines and man made words, man.”  So, what you are saying is that you have no real definition or clue – any words that have any sort of precision to them – at all?  “I don’t need words, man.  I got Jesus!”  Have a nice day.

Well, I wish the above exchange were not true.  But, it has happened.  The “I don’t need no creeds, just my Bible” routine is one of the more silly notions that cults all around the world have used to “keep one” from seeing what “others” have said on this matter.  And here we find a great cloud of witnesses from the most opposite of people in agreement on what the “Bible says”.  Don’t they count, too?  Are they not brothers and sisters in the Lord?  Does he not know them as well?  Is your faith more impassioned for Christ than them?  Such a great unity of the Faith, where in the world unity is damn hard to come by, should be rigorously studied first before throwing off such a great force.  That would be the responsible thing to do.

This, then, is my second part of this series.  Part three is coming in a couple of days, and should complete it.

Who is Jesus? Part 1

Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

For anyone following the recent explosive topic on Facebook concerning matters of what is called, Christology, you will have noticed the constant appeal by me to Chalcedon, 451 AD.  Since my opponents now openly and explicitly admit they deny this cherished Statement of the Christian Faith, one of them stating that the union between Man and God in the Son, “ceased”, it behooved me to begin an article or two on the subject.  It marks the end of that discussion for me with these deniers.

The Apostle Paul wrote what is perhaps his most clearest attempt to  honor two theologically perplexing problems.  Jesus is a man “born of a woman” (Romans 1.2) and is genealogically speaking, of the family of King David.  Paul consistently calls this Jesus a man.  However, there are also passages wherein Paul unmistakably relates Jesus to God Himself.  How can this be?

“…Christ Jesus, who being in nature of God, did not think being equal with God something to hold” (Philippians 2.6, 7).  In other words, Messiah Yeshuah, his earthly name, and the name by which, as we shall see, he is to be forever called, while on earth was equal to God.  This was not something he had to “grab”, or “take” (hold) for himself.  He is equal to God (where the main verb “being” is present).  “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal [same word in Paul] with God” (John 5.18).  It is perhaps from John that Paul took his cue.

Before we go any further in this verse, and finally in this articles to Chalcedon, let us immediately note that we are talking about two, distinct beings: God, and Christ Jesus.  John introduces God, the Father.  Jesus is the son.  The Father is invisible, spirit, heavenly, eternal.  Jesus is a man, flesh, and his feet got dirty.  God does not have feet.  You get the picture.  The antagonizers of Jesus got the picture: he is claiming to be equal to God.  “Equal” as a term requires two things in order to compare/contrast the claim: they are equals.  Thus, Christ Jesus, as a man, had no problems in his mind thinking that he is equal with God.  How can a man think that he is equal to God?  That God is his direct father?  Hopefully, you can begin to see the issue: God, Father, Son, Jesus, thinking, man.

“…but did empty himself, the nature of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made, and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death — death even of a cross” (Philippians 2.7,8).  But, this Jesus, the Messiah (the Christ), the one who has no issues thinking that he is equal to God Himself, he emptied himself.  The verb κενοω (kenoo) means to lay aside something that one has.  Jeremiah 14.2 says, “Judah is in mourning, Her settlements languish” where the Greek verb used for the Hebrew is kenoo.  Her gates themselves are laid aside.  She has gates.  They are just laid aside and not being used.  Some translations have, as the one above, “emptied himself” which again carries with it the notion of laid aside, not used, emptied out, tossed.  The point here is the Jesus, the Messiah, the son of Mary,  who did not think it any issue to be equal with God, laid aside that equality, did not use it to further his own mission.  He knew he was equal to God, but did not cash in on that equality.  It’s like this: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?….Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest” (Matthew 26.55-ff).  He was sentenced to death.

Get it?  The next part of the clause, “having taken the nature of a servant” runs into ambiguity at first.  The verb, “taken” has a subject acting on another thing; in this case someone is taking something.  In order for someone to take something, someone must exist prior to the taking.  We know that Jesus of Nazareth was born.  There was a time when he was not.  However, there was not time when God was not; He is Eternal.  The man, Christ Jesus, was not born into the world, then at some point decided to “take” to himself equality with God.  That’s absurd.  So, who did the taking here?  Who took to himself “the nature of a servant, in the likeness of man was made”?  If someone “was made” something, and this same someone “took” something to himself before he was made, else nobody took anything, then by logic of the verb, the text, God took to Himself the nature of man, and in that nature made a man (who did not exist prior to) and was found, after fashioning this man, one who was a man equal to Himself.

Now, we know that the Bible uses the terms, “father and son” repeatedly for Jesus and the Father.  But, we know that Jesus, the man, was made, created – had no existence prior to.  We also know that the Son of God is Eternal, is God Himself, the Son.  Therefore, the Son, who is God, took to Himself human nature, and in that Nature fashioned a man, with a human soul and a human body.  This man, Christ Jesus, Messiah, is in union with the Son of God, Who Is God Himself.  This man, knowing his equality with the Son of God, knowing that he himself was made of his mother and Spirit, laid aside that which he is in union with, and lived his life solely in terms of what he was: a created man.  He did not draw upon his being in union with God, equal to God, to “bail him out” of what he had to face: death on a cross.  He did not draw his strength from temptation by relying on his equality with God, but rather resisted it as a man drawing on his faith in God.  He did not use his power, which was equal to God, since he is in union with God, to cause him not to sleep, to hunger, to weep.  God never sleeps.  God never hungers.  God has no stomach.  God is spirit-essence.  He did not use his equality with God, who is Omniscient, to express his teachings: for the son of man did not know the day or hour of “that day” when heaven and earth would pass away.  But, he said, “the Father knows” – who he is equal to.

So, what we have here, then, is Father, Son, son of man, Jesus Christ, human nature, man.  The man, Christ Jesus, who is equal to God, as a man did not think it any problem being equal to God.  The man laid aside that equality.  God the Son took to Himself human nature and out of that nature made a man, Yeshua Messiah – a man with a soul and a body just like yours and mine.  Back hair and all.  This human being, this Jesus, the son of man, did not think it a problem that he was equal to God because he knew that God the Father was his Father.  The Son of God, the Eternal certainly has no issue being equal with God for He is God, the Son, and knows the Father, eternally.  Therefore, since the Son of God, Eternal, took to Himself human nature and fashioned a human being, the son of man, the son of man, being a soul and body, knew that he was in union with God, directly.  When we get to the Chalcedonian expressions it will become at once clear how they, like Paul, were trying to express what Paul here is saying.  Hang on.  It is important, however, at this point that we have fulfilled two requirements which was the utmost concern to the ancient fathers of our Christian Faith: 1. That no logical contradiction occurs in our description.  2. That no contradiction in our description contradicts the Revelation, the Bible.  These were the two “tests”.  Write them down.  Hang it on your wall.  Memorize it.

Now, again, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death — death even of a cross.”  As the man, Christ Jesus, emptied himself, or laid aside that drawing of strength of being equal to God and rather depending on his drawing of the strength of his human faith (like us), so also he humbled himself.  It is here that Paul, before he said all of this, stated “have this thinking in you that is in Christ Jesus, who being in the nature of God…”  Be like Jesus, the man, who humbled himself.  Who, as a man is equal to God, but laid aside such honor, and as a man obeyed God, humbled himself, put those who he went to the cross for before himself.  Be like that.  Now, this Jesus, the son of man, did die.  And this simply cannot possibly be said of God, who he is equal to.  This can however absolutely be said of the human being, Jesus of Bethlehem.  He died.  His soul was separated from his body, and James 2.26 gives us a most explicit definition of death, “the body without the spirit is dead.”  No brainer.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2.9-11).  It was to the “glory of the Father” that the man, Jesus, was made by God, and that God took to himself human nature in union with Himself and fashioned the son of man.  God did not “exalt himself” – God, the Son, Eternal, did not die, nor was he “highly exalted” after he made the man, Christ Jesus.  The Son of God, Eternal, is eternally exalted, eternally God.  The exaltation of is for “him” – the one that died and was raised from the dead, the son of man, body and soul – human nature.  Every knee will bow to King Jesus, the Son of David, King of Jerusalem.  Those on the earth (the living), those under the earth (the dead, the bodies of the dead that belong to those who have died – this is Paul talk for resurrection of the dead by the One who was raised from the dead, Jesus, the son of man, Son of God).

In conclusion, in a day or two, I will post comments on the Chalcedon Creed, 451 AD.  The words of that Creed are an exposition of these verses we have considered here (and several more).  After such, it will become quite plain that the men who penned this Creed were devout believers of the Scriptures, had wrestled through them with great pain (literally), and struck upon a formulation that, in spite of our dissensions and differences and words against one another, have united us all together in this One Confession of the Faith.